The Stinkbug Invasion
March 16, 2018 7:24 PM   Subscribe

A stinkbug infestation is truly hellish. I'm quite sure I killed at least 26,000 before I had the good sense to move to a more urbanized area.

Fuckers almost ruined cilantro for me.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:42 PM on March 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

"Pre-stinkbug crisis, the couple had been unwinding after work (she is an actress, comedian, and horse trainer; he is a horticulturist), and were notably underdressed, in tank tops and boxers".

Only in The New Yorker.
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:45 PM on March 16, 2018 [13 favorites]

A stinkbug trap recommendation or two via Pennsylvania State University’s Extension Service.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:52 PM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've started to see these little fuckers in Indiana recently. Didn't know they were an invader. Why do I feel like this will end with gorillas?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:59 PM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

proposal: put a beacon at the very top of the white house to draw all the stink bugs to it, Mothra-style

continue putting beacons on house until satisfied with result
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:45 PM on March 16, 2018 [13 favorites]

We've had three bugs who've wintered with us here in Wisconsin. My S.O. even named them: Bug 1, Bug 2, and Frank. It was hard to identify them, because there are similarities between bugs. Today, one of the bugs died. Frank. We crushed him and determined, due to the lack of scent and certain other physiological features, that he and his friends are the spined soldier bug (Podisus maculiventris). He will be missed.
posted by Floydd at 9:29 PM on March 16, 2018 [11 favorites]

I had never seen one of these stink bugs until I moved to Atlanta. The stink bugs that were local to Texas looked very different. The ones in Atlanta, which I now see are native to Asia and not the US, came inside in the spring and fall, though I never found more than 3 in any one day. My cat, who loves to play with/eat bugs wouldn’t even touch them.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:23 AM on March 17, 2018

I feel like such a whiner for complaining about having to deal with a few dozen of those mean, bitey ladybugs this winter.

Also, am I the only one who read this as political commentary: as we all now know, being graceless and dumb is no obstacle to being powerful and horrifying?
posted by she's not there at 4:28 AM on March 17, 2018 [10 favorites]

I feel like every cheap pallet shipped to us from Asia has some new horror hiding in it out to destroy our ecosystem, and not just bugs.

Asian carp eating everything and hurling themselves out of rivers en masse to passing boaters.

Snakeheads breathing air and migrating across land towards new bodies of water.

Giant Burmese pythons loose in the everglades.

Everybody talks about Australia being full of dangerous animals, but Asia seems to be where the real monsters lie.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:18 AM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Why do I feel like this will end with gorillas?
Skinner: Well, I was wrong; the lizards are a godsend.
Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
posted by Fizz at 6:27 AM on March 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Didn’t they almost call off Burning Man because of these fuckers?


hmmmm, maybe they’re not so bad after all...
posted by panama joe at 6:44 AM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Given the massive die-off of insect biomass, we might have to train these little fuckers to pollinate.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:02 AM on March 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

I know how the Japanese lady bug invaded New Jersey in the 90's.

Back when Georgian Court University was Georgian Court College we had a pretty ambitious biology department with ecological leanings, and they decided to leave their mark on the campus by building a long nature trail through some of the undeveloped acreage. Something to add to our famous gardens.

The project took some time and when it opened they decided to do a ladybug launch at the opening ceremony, instead of doves or butterflies. However instead of using a company that just does these launches and researches local species, the students saved money by simply ordering a big bucket of ladybugs from a another lab somewhere.

The opening ceremony was lovely, the nature trail was beautiful to walk, and the following year the dorms were covered in thick swarms of Japanese ladybugs because they had no natural predators here and an abundance of food.

The year after that everyone started talking about those weird pale orange and yellow ladybugs being every damn where.

For once I was glad to be an English major.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 7:07 AM on March 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

I bring glad tidings. Here in Maryland we had stinkbugs early, and indeed they were horrible: some people had thousands in their houses, sweetcorn and peaches were severely affected. We used them for "Take your child to work" day, since we could easily find adults and eggs (and we have plenty of microscopes so kids could look at them close-up) and we stocked different kinds of traps. Then we started to have trouble finding them. One of my colleagues works at the Delaware insect lab, so we had inside knowledge: the bugs were migrating south, not liking Maryland so much. The local starlings were learning how to eat them. Other native predator insects were beginning to prey on them. So now, I see 15-20 bugs in my house every winter, and a few outside on the garden plants, but nothing like a biblical plague any more.
posted by acrasis at 7:15 AM on March 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

Why do I feel like this will end with gorillas?

My guess is praying mantises.

I have all manner of critter living on my farm, and the only thing I have seen that will eat a stinkbug is a praying mantis. The way they hold it and chomp reminds me too much of eating a hamburger.

Now, please excuse me while I simultaneously vomit and scratch everywhere.
posted by slipthought at 7:43 AM on March 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

Stink bugs are edible, for what it's worth, including the famous brown marmorated invader.

They call them Jumiles in Mexico, and make a tasty salsa out of them.

They have an almost apple-y taste, and are very easy to harvest, as many of you can attest. I don't live in an area with many of them at present, but a few years back I was visiting VA and made a nice little dish of them, sauteed with some chili oil and onions.

Eating bugs helps to increase our food and feed security in the face of climate change, and can be an a key factor in fighting world hunger. These and many other fun facts on entomophagy available in this excellent article from the FAO.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:01 AM on March 17, 2018 [13 favorites]

I loved this...

...except for the frequent moments of visceral horror. Here's one:
Across the country, vineyards are facing a double threat, because brown marmorated stinkbugs eat both grapes and grapevines. Worse, they tend to migrate to the center of grape clusters late in the season, then get harvested along with them. According to one study, the threshold for detecting a flavor change in grape juice is twenty-five brown marmorated stinkbugs per thirty-five pounds of Concord grapes. On the plus side, or something, evidence suggests that fermentation makes it somewhat more difficult to notice the taste of crushed stinkbugs in wine.
The "or something" is inspired.

"Also, am I the only one who read this as political commentary: as we all now know, being graceless and dumb is no obstacle to being powerful and horrifying?"

The "now" in the sentence is telling.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:19 AM on March 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm not so convinced that they're as dumb as their wall-bashing flight patterns make them seem. Several years back, I decided my indoor cat might like a little extra entertainment during the day and decided to try getting him some pets of his own: a few marmorated stink bugs kept under a heavy glass cloche, with food and some sticks and things to give them something to climb. Cat loved to solemnly watch them crawl around. I enjoyed looking at the little subtle variations in the color and patterning of their carapaces, but what was most interesting was the way in which they would sit silently for a while, antennae twitching delicately, and then at once take off, all together, and fly at the glass.

Since then, studies have demonstrated their use of vibrational communication.

What I'm saying is that perhaps we should start with negotiation.
posted by notquitemaryann at 8:44 AM on March 17, 2018 [9 favorites]

she is an actress, comedian, and horse trainer; he is a horticulturist

Is this HGTV? They have a budget of 3 million dollars, right?
posted by Foosnark at 8:45 AM on March 17, 2018 [13 favorites]

As I was reading this article, one of the fuckers buzzed across the room and smacked into the storm door.

They have been brutal this winter, I've collected about 15-20 a day all season, the article's comparison to drunks leaving a party is dead on. I'm pretty sure they were holed up in my chimney, as I found most of them near, or leaving the vicinity of, my fireplace. I did find a small hatch of them shelting behind my art collection, which I probably took more personally than I should have. My best collection method has been a solo cup with a squirt of dish soap in lukewarm water and a long pencil. Just gently nudge them off the wall into the water, they sink and drown. No stink. When the cup gets disgustingly full, dump it in the toilet.

slipthought: I hope you're right about the praying mantis' taste for them, as I do love mantises, and will delight in them eating stinkbug burgers around the house.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:48 AM on March 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

My brother had them in Maryland, as the article says, several years ago. I'd see them (and watch his reactions with bemusement) when I visited, and forgot all about them when I returned to my California home. One of the reasons I migrated was the lack of insect pests here -- roaches and especially mosquitoes aren't the problem they are Back East. But now, it says, these horrible bugs are coming. Well, as the article concludes, could be worse, they neither bite nor sting. However, my current insect nemesis, the Argentine Ant, doesn't either.
posted by Rash at 9:17 AM on March 17, 2018

roaches and especially mosquitoes aren't the problem they are Back East.
The wall-to-wall giant roach carpeting that covered Davis, CA when I lived there would beg to differ.

Sure, bugs problems are better and worse in some places compared to others, but there is no simple east/west rule.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:35 AM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well the Burmese python in the Everglades problem is because idiot pet owners bought them and set them loose, not because they smuggled over in a pallet.
posted by emjaybee at 11:25 AM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

They're constantly dive-bombing me while I'm standing doing the dishes under the fluorescent above the sink . I name all of them Reggie and eject them whenever possible.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:29 PM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm in Michigan. We started to see them in 2016. Every afternoon, all winter long, I eject one of them from my home office. I just open the window and brush it out to die in the snow. There is rarely more than one per day, but there is always another one the next day. I don't know where the reservoir is.
posted by elizilla at 1:14 PM on March 17, 2018

> Am I the only one who read this as political commentary: "As we all now know, being graceless and dumb is no obstacle to being powerful and horrifying?"

Yes, of course that's political commentary.

This is writing by Kathryn Schulz, who won the Pulitzer prize for The Really Big One ("An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when." [Previously])

She also wrote What Calling Congress Achieves, a straight-up call to action for the Trump era, and Valley of the Russian Dolls: A Hollow, Repetitive Form Proves Perfect for Trump. Just so.

But for my money, some of her most amazing writing is the low-key When Things Go Missing, which starts off light, dances through neuroscience and cognitive tricks, and then ends up in an unexpected - but obvious in retrospect - and heartbreaking place:
There’s precious little solace for this, and zero redress; we will lose everything we love in the end. But why should that matter so much? By definition, we do not live in the end: we live all along the way.
(Yes, [previously].)

This stinkbug article was long and - I thought - delightful every step of the way, even though my partner wanted nothing to do with such a depressing topic...
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:53 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

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